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Etienne Lenoir, French engineer

Etienne Lenoir, French engineer


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Etienne Lenoir (1822-1900), French engineer and inventor of the internal combustion engine. A self-taught engineer, Lenoir also worked on electroplating and telegraphy. Designed in 1859, his engine was powered by coal gas. Fuel and air were drawn into a cylinder where they were lit by a spark; the resulting explosion moving a piston up the cylinder. The engine was a two-stroke design, where the piston moved up the cylinder and returned ready for the next explosion. The engine was used to power a 'horseless carriage' and a boat but the engine was only 4 percent efficient and of little use. Awarded the Legion of Honour in 1881 for his telegraphy work, Lenoir died in poverty.

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